July 24, 2016

Field trip: Weaving and the Social World

Arriving at Union Station in New Haven, CT 

Entering the exhibition "Weaving and the Social World" at the Yale University Art Gallery

Wall text showing a back strap loom, plain weave structure, and discontinuous warp and weft weave 

"Mantles with the Rayed Deity," 500 B.C. - A.D.100, Scaffold weave, camelid wool

My friend Sara looking at a tie-dyed weaving

Detail of "Sleeved Tunic with Flying Condors," A.D. 1200-1400, Plain warp and weft tapestry weave with looped stitching

Installation view of various feather textiles dating from A.D. 400-900, including a large tunic in the center

Several loincloths woven from feathers 

Detail view of one of the feather loincloths

The wall of feather textiles from a distance

Detail of "Tunic with Crested Moon Animal," A.D. 1200-1400, Plain weave with cotton and feathers

Almost a year after spending two glorious weeks on the coast of Maine in a weaving workshop at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts (more on that soon), a few of my fellow weavers and I decided that a field trip to New Haven, Connecticut was in order to see "Weaving and the Social World," an exhibition of 3,000 years of weavings by the Andean people.

None of this was made as Art with a capital "A" – it was fabric, it was ceremony, it was functional, and rarely decorative. Many of these pieces required an entire lifetime (and likely multiple hands) to weave. Yet here they were, 600, 1,600, 2,000 years later, hanging at the Yale University Art Gallery. A reminder of not only how ancient things can look so modern to us today, but also how, if we are lucky, the things we make with our hands can go out into the world on their own adventure long after our lifetime. 

Recently I had an inquiry about the longevity of my work - "it looks so delicate, so fragile, how could it possibly last very long?" someone asked me as they considered acquiring a piece of mine for their new building. I pointed to ancient embroideries to show that these things, if well-cared for, can exist for many centuries. Nothing lasts forever, of course, but to see these vibrant loincloths made from feathers in the year 400 A.D. hanging on a gallery wall in 2016 felt like a message from our ancestors about a particular belief in, and dedication to, the preservation of beauty. 

"Weaving and the Social World" is on view at the Yale University Art Gallery through September 18, 2016. 

May 23, 2015

Inside "The Storied Stitch" Exhibition

First look inside "The Storied Stitch" exhibition 

A local couple, both artists themselves, looking at my piece

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon my husband and I travelled with friends up the Hudson River to a small town called Sparkill for the closing reception of "The Storied Stitch," a group exhibition of contemporary women artists who use embroidery in their work: Orly Cogan, Michelle Kingdom, Katrina Majkut, Tamar Stone, and me.

May 10, 2015

Changing course


I decided to try something else – I wasn't happy with how the first solution looked, with all three layers of the organdy smashed together and the wooden stretcher showing through, disrupting the image.  So I unstretched the piece and began thinking about other ways of finishing it. After sifting through some of my reference books, I got excited about a technique I had never tried before called reverse applique.

With reverse applique, I could isolate the image through a layer of fabric, cutting and sewing whatever shape I wanted through the top fabric layer to reveal the image behind it. Genius, I thought and plunged ahead. 

Determining the circle placement

Checking the circle placement on the underside 

Reverse applique is exactly what it sounds like – instead of cutting out shapes of different fabrics and then applying them to your piece, you stitch and cut the shapes out of your fabric to reveal whatever fabric (or in my case, three painted layers of organdy) is behind it. This will make more sense hopefully in a minute.